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A paint­ing a day …

MA­JOR LEAGUE Base­ball play­ers. Amer­i­can TV host Billy Bush. A cou­ple rid­ing gi­ant ver­sions of their pet cats while bat­tling toy mice.

These are only a hand­ful of the more than 700 com­mis­sioned por­traits Melissa Ste­wart has painted since she started her busi­ness Missy’s Por­traits in 2011.

Orig­i­nally a graphic artist, Ste­wart de­cided to give her own por­trait busi­ness a try while she was on ma­ter­nity leave with her first daugh­ter.

“It took off re­ally quickly,” the Hamilton mom of two said, not­ing she had 37 paint­ings on the go at the end of Jan­uary. “I stay very busy.”

Ste­wart typ­i­cally spends four hours in the morn­ing paint­ing and another two in the evening af­ter her daugh­ters go to bed.

It typ­i­cally takes her about six to seven hours to com­plete one of her re­al­is­tic oil por­traits, but it can vary based on the size.

Pets, peo­ple and houses make up the bulk of Ste­wart’s clients’ re­quests — from real es­tate agents com­mis­sion­ing paint­ings of homes, to par­ents who want por­traits of their chil­dren, to folks who love their pets.

But she has had some big name cus­tomers — namely Billy Bush, known most re­cently for his con­ver­sa­tion with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump dur­ing an “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” seg­ment in 2005, as well as the Na­tional Hockey League Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, which com­mis­sioned paint­ings of some of its play­ers.

While the ma­jor­ity of Ste­wart’s cus­tomers are from across Canada, the United States and else­where in the world, she has had a few lo­cal cus­tomers, in­clud­ing the fam­ily of Hamilton Cpl. Nathan Cir­illo, who com­mis­sioned a paint­ing of him and his dog af­ter he died.

“I do a lot of memo­rial paint­ings for peo­ple who have passed away,” she said. “It’s tough some­times, but I know that it’s mean­ing­ful to that per­son.”

Car­toons for busi­ness

JEFFREY MARR has never en­joyed hold­ing a job.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t like it, but I re­ally, re­ally hate it,” the 27-year-old said.

It’s not that the Hamilton res­i­dent doesn’t like work­ing — he just prefers to do it for him­self.

Since he was in his early 20s, Marr has tried his hand at a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent busi­ness ven­tures, from real es­tate to fit­ness ven­tures.

His lat­est — Be­tween the Lines An­i­ma­tions — launched in March 2016. His com­pany makes an­i­mated videos for mar­ket­ing or train­ing pur­poses.

He started out by cre­at­ing an­i­mated book sum­maries on YouTube in De­cem­ber 2015. Af­ter go­ing through the city’s Starter Com­pany pro­gram, he re­ceived a lit­tle coin and a lot of men­tor­ship to help him on his way.

Now he cre­ates one-and-a-half to three minute videos for com­pa­nies like Nel­son Ed­u­ca­tion that are meant to be an eas­ier way for peo­ple to re­tain in­for­ma­tion with­out it be­ing a chore.

While Marr lives in Hamilton, hav­ing an on­line busi­ness means the world is his oys­ter.

That’s why he’s able to set off to Thai­land with a hand­ful of other en­trepreneurs for a few months this win­ter where they’ll work re­motely to flush out their busi­nesses.

When he’s home though, he works out of his liv­ing room where it can some­times be more of a chal­lenge to stay fo­cused.

“I get dis­tracted a lit­tle bit,” he said.

Feet up at the fire

RELAXING IN FRONT of a fire with a bot­tle of wine.

That’s the ex­pe­ri­ence Bren­dan Kover of Hamilton Home Com­fort hopes his cus­tomers en­joy af­ter hav­ing a fire­place in­stalled in their home.

“I per­son­ally love fire­places,” the 31year-old said. “I al­ways en­joyed sit­ting around the fire as a kid.”

The Stoney Creek heat­ing and cool­ing busi­ness has been around since 2007, but when Kover took over from his par­ents, he brought his own pas­sion to the place.

Now at least 60 per cent of busi­ness con­ducted is fire­places, with the re­main­der in­clud­ing fur­naces and air con­di­tion­ers in the sum­mer, he said.

“Fur­naces, to me, are some­what bor­ing. No­body looks at their fur­nace,” said Kover, a law school grad­u­ate. “Fire­places are kind of like the cen­tre­piece of the house.”

Artist Melissa Ste­wart in her home stu­dio where she paints por­traits from cus­tomers’ pho­tos.

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